A study by Chapman University (article here) shows that 25.3% of Americans fear public speaking and many studies have shown that the fear of speaking on a stage is even more powerful than the fear of death itself. It’s pretty amazing to think that many would choose death over speaking in public. Sometimes the crowd doesn’t even have to be large, a group of 5 people would scare many people because its not the number of people in the crowd that scares the speaker, but its the idea of standing up on a pedestal and being expected to deliver on a certain expectation, that does.
I get up on a stage fairly often over the last decade, from media press events to stand up comedy open mics, and it still scares me every time. Here’s the truth: it’s normal and everyone gets scared even when the stakes are low. Over time, I’ve devised some methods that have helped me to avoid freezing up on the stage.
10 minutes left before stage time. Tense, nervous and perhaps a little bit on edge, you ogle at your notes, repeat each and every sentence and word structure a million times in silent breathe hoping that they internalise and become second nature once you’re on stage. Finally when your name is called, you step up and completely forget every single thing that you spent the last hour on. Worst, you remember them but you’re just mumbling along without feeling a single word and losing the crowd almost instantly. I can’t count the number of times this has happened to me and till today, I still make the same mistake every now and then. Here’s what I do to change my state.
When its 5 minutes to show time, put those notes down, take a deep breath and focus on building your energy. Visualise the reasons why you’re taking the stage in the first place. Feel its importance, allow it to give you a positive or fighting energy, like a boxer who is about to get into a ring. Remind yourself that you know what you know and you know it best. If you’re nervous, embrace that feeling, celebrate it by fist pumping or any other form of strong gesture that gives you a feeling of soliditary (for me, it’s punching my right fist into the palms of my left hand). Adjust your posture to make yourself feel big. Straighten your back, shoulders back, arms to the side and your chin level and steady. You’re now in the zone. When you’re invited on stage, walk in like a champion would.
Have you ever heard of the advice ‘imagine everyone in the audience only in their underwear’? Personally, I think this is a terrible idea because I would be extremely distracted if looking at a crowd in their birthday suits. I once tried this method, I ended up chuckling on stage for reasons only apparent to me.
What I found more powerful was to actually focus on the audience instead. This means looking at everyone in the eye and really trying to deliver a message into their very souls. Not only does this make you present and engaged with your audience, it shakes off nerves because you’re really trying to make a point. Your sense of purpose, your mission, takes over and your attention is diverted away from how you feel and instead focused on making them understand, appreciate or internalise what you have to say.
A good presenter knows that the most important people in the room is the audience. A great presenter knows that they’re the least important person in the room.
PowerPoint or Keynote slides are probably the best way to not freeze up or forget your lines but they’re also extremely dull. I never really use them except as a way to emphasize what I have to say. Slides are meant to be visual aids, not public reading material. If you realise, the greatest speeches of all time never had multimedia to back them up. Barack Obama is probably one of the greatest speakers of our generation, a skilled orator who pulled sold out crowds and even awed his very adversaries with his masterful use of the spoken word. What most people don’t realise is that every great speaker also has a system.
I won’t delve too much into a particular system because there are so many methodologies out there. However, I wanted to emphasize the importance of having one in the first place. A system will keep your stage time focused and allow you to design the experience for the audience.
I’m a great fan of Steve Jobs (like many of us) and who can forget the first time he unveiled the iPhone? Who could imagine a crowd whipped into frenzy over the introduction of a new technological innovation before Steve Jobs? And he uses a very simple system. Some call it the Power of Three. I like to call it 3+1. His Keynotes are usually structure with 3 key points and 3 sub points as people have a difficulty remembering beyond 3. He throws in a little surprise at the end which has become affectionally known as “And one more thing…” which is where he unveils his surprise introductions. For the iPhone introduction, he started out by introducing 3 new products into the market: an innovative internet browsing device, a new iPod and a new phone. His ‘one more thing’ moment was when he declared that they were all the same device called the iPhone.
Having a structured system helps you to keep to a plot when you forget your lines. Knowing what you need to say next helps you to keep the presentation going. Even if you skip a line or two, if they’re not integrally important to your showcase, no one would ever know and you end up looking great at the end. Remind yourself: It’s okay to skip a line or two because you’re the only one who knows. I have a few systems which I use for different types of situations. Even stand up comedy has books on formats and structure. They’re not as impromptu as they seem as everything is crafted and rehearsed, oftentimes at open mics, to perfection. Everything is by design.
In a BuzzFlash interview in 2004, George Soros once said, “Stock market bubbles don’t grow out of thin air. They have a solid basis in reality, but reality as distorted by misconception.” Analyst like to say that the market is efficient but the reality is, the market is moved more by general perception of performance rather than the actual performance of the companies listed in any stock exchange.
Do you believe that more people have lost money in stocks that they have made? Do you also believe that they’ve lost because they didn’t have the right skill sets or tools to make good stock choices?
Good investors will know the difference between price vs value. The price of a stock (which is a micro fraction of the company) rarely reflects the actual value of the company. What gives a company its value? Profitability, consistent dividend payouts and a strong operating cashflow are all signs of good companies and thus, valuable companies. But how many actually looks at the underlying value of a company when the price is so readily available and those things move up and down! Note apparent sarcasm.
I oftentimes share about analysing the stock market with Equities Tracker (our 41 year old research partner) and when I tell them the merits, they often claim that I’m hawking a scam product. It’s one thing to be rejected, but to be called a scam in the face of ignorance, can be downright exhausting. It doesn’t help that I tell them that it’s easy and the information is readily available, if you know where to look. Because if it’s easy, everyone would be doing it, right?
If you enjoy living dangerously, listen to someone else whom guarantees you that the stock is ‘going up’ because they know someone inside somewhere who knows something others don’t. Even if the information was actually true, it’s called insider trading which is also very very illegal. In most cases, what you’re dabbling in is mere speculation which is probably what 99% of the market relies on. Which is also why stocks have such a negative image because these same people are losing money to speculation. Of course, if you enjoy staring at stock prices all day when you could be experiencing the wonders of life instead, by all means be a speculative trader.
The fundamental science to investing into the stock market is pretty simple. You have to remember that you’re not just buying a stock but rather buying a share of a company. That means, regardless how tiny your share is, you’re still essentially buying into a COMPANY. And if you were to evaluate a company, wouldn’t you need to make sure that the company, for example, pays you a return on your investment, is run by a solid management team and is unlikely to run into cashflow issues? However, how many of us take a look at a stock and study these factors before pressing ‘buy’? Called Value Investing, it is practiced by many of the world’s top investors and also the infamous Warren Buffett, considered by many as the world’s greatest investor.
As an investor, I’m actually rather conservative. I do a lot of research, devour books on the subject matter and even practice with stock market simulations (when I can) before making any investments. And my preference is for investments which pays dividends (as I’m aiming for financial freedom, not capital appreciation) and doesn’t require a lot of maintenance as, like most busy professionals, I’m busy with my many commitments as it is. Value investing parallels with many of my investing methods because I need to be confident and comfortable when I click ‘buy’.
Information, and the knowledge to process the information, is a big part of confidence. There’s no better feeling than knowing exactly why you’re doing something. Through Equities Tracker, their 41 years of experience in Bursa stock exchange research (which means this is based on facts, not fiction) provides a wealth of information, all readily accessible through their online platform.
If you want access to such information to see for yourself the kind of data that Equities Tracker has researched, they’re providing a limited 1 month complimentary access to their amazing research platform till the end of the month, in conjunction with Chinese New Year. If you want complimentary access, even if to validate any of your current stock market investments, click the button below to find out more details:Access EquitiesTracker.com
It’s the start of another year and boy did 2016 fly by in a breeze. Lots have happened for (and to) me over the last year or two. Have I grown wiser? Maybe. I cleared a lot of bucket lists goals and I realise that my list seems to be growing longer.
At the start of 2015, I was close to rock bottom. The last throw of the dice, we opened Stickerrific and prayed that we rolled a six. It panned out and by the end of 2015, the business surpassed expectations. I remember emotionally throwing in the towel many times that year but I’m glad we stuck to it and it’s now highly successful and Stickerrific is expanding to a new store 3 times its original incarnation on the 7th of January this year.
I start every year with a list of milestones that I intend to achieve within the year. Normally I set about 14 goals for myself and set about to achieve them. There’s no special meaning behind the 14 goals, it’s just how much that would fit neatly in my notebook and I’m a little OCD that way. In 2015, it was a combination of cash in the bank, financial goals for the business and other personal goals for the year. 2015 was a good year, despite the difficulties and I found myself achieving 12/14 milestones I set for myself that year.
2016 was an entirely different beast. I set another 14 milestones but achieved only 5 of them. Why? Because my life dramatically shifted around May when I decided to exit the Stickerrific business entirely and handed my role over to my sister-in-law completely. I felt the need to redefine myself and I sought out new entrepreneurial challenges.
It was probably the best decision that I made as it opened up the opportunity for me to take up my current roles in Gold Silver Asia and Owners Circle. It exposed me to investment and business opportunities that I would never have the opportunity to take advantage of if I didn’t make that step. I only achieved 5/14 of my 2016 goals but what I achieved in 2016 far exceeded my expectations at the beginning of the year.
I’m probably going to set another 14 milestones for 2017 like I always do. But here’s me hoping that I far exceed my own expectations like in did in 2016 as I realise its okay to not achieve certain goals as there’s always something better along the way. And I hope that you receive the same blessings as I did. Have an incredible New Year and remember that 2017 is what you make it to be. For me, I went from zero to par in 2 years which I am eternally grateful for.
Having started many ventures over the years, I can attest to the ratio that 7 new ventures fail, 2 break even and only 1 truly succeeds. Yet, I love the idea of starting a new venture and trying to bring a new concept to life. Most savvy entrepreneurs can tell you that the biggest problem is you, lacking the right knowledge and expertise to make it successful.
I have to admit, I used to think I was smart when it comes to business. Fresh out of a successful corporate career, I felt invincible. Ignorant of the struggles that a small business has without the backing of a household name. As much as we hate to admit it, success does breed arrogance and I had plenty of it at that time.
Failing the first time, I blamed cheapskate competitors spoiling the market. The second time, I blamed poor selection of partners. It was only the third time when I lost pretty much everything I’ve built up to that point that I realise that the problem lies with me. Inexperience, poor cost management and poor customer knowledge led to the biggest life debt that I have yet to pay back till today.
Failure IS the biggest teacher you can find. I learned more in that one failure than in my decade of corporate experience. You would be hard pressed to find a successful entrepreneur that didn’t face failure head on, unless they were second generation wealthy. Maybe. We like to think that throwing money at the problem would be the quickest way to a solution. But in reality, a lot more can be done if you had a network of business owners to support you from behind. Oftentimes the solution wouldn’t cost you a penny. Knowing the right people will bring you a long way in any business venture.
My fortunes turned when I stepped out of my comfort zone and joined a network organisation. I started seeking for help instead of arrogantly trying to solve problems on my own. I spent 30% of my time learning from people more experienced than me. Another 30% on self development (basically, by reading a lot of books). My position in SilverMalaysia and Owners Circle is a result of my connections, self study and seizing opportunities when they were placed before me.
by Henry Ford